What are the symptoms of TMJ?

Since ‘TMJ” can be caused by a combination of factors (teeth/bite, muscles, displacement within the joint, trauma), the symptoms of TMJ are varied. Some people may have only one symptom, while others experience a combination of pain symptoms. For example, the symptoms resulting from teeth problems can be much different from those resulting from muscle problems.

Symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw tenderness
  • Ear pain or pressure
  • Clicking, popping or grinding sound when opening, closing the mouth or chewing food
  • Problem with opening or closing mouth
  • Unexplained tooth pain
  • Generalized neck ache/or stiffness

If the cause of the TMJ problem is not treated, the problem can become chronic and treatment more complicated. Over time, arthritic degeneration may develop in the jaw joint.

TMJ Terminology

The term “treatment” is related to cure, relief, therapy, recovery and solution.
Some of the treatments are referred to as alternative, natural, noninvasive, nonsurgical and physical therapy.
Treatment may involve exercise, relaxation, meditation, massage, moist heat, diet, nutrition, supplements.
Some TMJ treatments involve products, devices, protheses, appliance, braces, night mouth guards.
The person involved in treatment is often a Doctor, Dentist, Otolaryngologist . Other specialists and health care experts may be involved.
A patient may seek treatment in a center, clinic, office, institute or other health organization.
The patient should consult their insurance to see what costs are covered. Not all insurance network doctors treat TMJ problems.
Prescription or over-the-counter medication may involve an anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxants.
The following information is FYI only. It is not intended to provide treatment or recommend treatment by any means or methods. Any health problems need careful diagnosis by your attending doctors.

How many TMJ disorders exist?

Current literatures contain a wide array of confusing definitions for terms such as CFP, CFD, MFP, MPD, CMD, CMP, CMDS, TMD, TMJ, TMJD, OFD, OFP, MMD, AFP and many others. Terms used are depending on who is using the term. Each term means something to some one but means something totally different to others.

TMJ problems can be categorized into the following groups.

Group I describes problems of the TM joint. Examples are as follows:

TMJD, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction/Disorder is a functional problem of the mandible specifically related to the temporal area and the TM joint. Putting it differently, T represents occlusion, M represents muscle, J represents joints, and D represents dysfunctions. This is the same as TMD as defined by NIDCR.

TMJP, Temporomandibular Joint Pain is a description of pain in the TM joint area.

TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint is an anatomical term only. It should never be used to describe a disease, dysfunctional problem, pain, and or syndrome. TM joint problems can be diagnosed by tomography, MRI, and arthrography.

Group II is for all the terms related to muscles. Within this group are two subgroups. All muscle problems are diagnosed with muscle palpations, ROM measurements, and nerve testing.

Subgroup One describes the dysfunction problems involving mostly the jaw muscles. All terms ending with a D can be put into this group, which includes CFD, MPD, CMD, CMDS, OFD, MMD.
CFD, Craniofacial dysfunction describes the dysfunction between the systems related to the face and head. The cranium does not have an easily measurable range of motion, so any measurable dysfunction is in the mandibular range of motion. These functional problems are related to facial structure and  how the teeth fit together, how the muscles function and how the joint functions.
MPD, Myofascial pain dysfunction describes a functional problem of the mandible with pain. This functional problem is related to disturbed occlusal mechanics, and mostly muscular in origin (Dr. J.Travell).
CMD, Craniomandibular Disorder describes the functional problem of the mandible. This functional problem relates to how the teeth fit together, how the muscles function and how the joint functions.
CMDS, Cranio-mandibular Dysfunction Syndrome describes a collage of symptoms indicating abnormal conditions, both disease and psychological disorders. The known cause has not yet been discovered.
TMD, Temporomandibular Dysfunction describes the dysfunction between the systems related to the temporal region of the head and lower jaw. NIDCR defined TMD as a group of conditions affecting the jaw joints and the muscles that control the jaw.
MMD, Masticatory muscle disorder as defined by Dr. J. Okeson include muscle splinting, local muscle soreness, trigger point pain, myospasm, and centrally mediated myalgia.

Subgroup Two describes pain, which can result from muscular dysfunction. All the terms ending with P can be included in this group, which includes MFP, CMP, AFP and OFP.

MFP Myofascial Pain is pain in the fascial system of the body and involves muscles. Fascia is the connective tissue found everywhere in your body that holds all of your organs in place. When fascia malfunctions due to injury, illness, surgery or poor posture, it becomes tight and binds down, resulting in abnormal pressure on nerves, muscles, bones or organs of the body. Restriction in one region can put a ³drag² on the fascia in any other direction. In TMJ disorders, professionals tend to look primarily at the muscles of the upper body and head. While this is the main site of pain, the rest of the body should not be overlooked. Myofascial pain occurs throughout the body and affects how healing takes place.
CMP, Chronic Myofascial Pain is myofascial pain in fascia and muscles of the head, neck, all the way to the toes.
OFP, Orofacial Pain is pain in teeth and face including facial muscles.
AFP, Atypical Facial Pain is the pain occurring in the territory of the trigeminal nerve with no specific cause (Dr. James H. Halsey, University of Alabama Medical Center).

How is TMJ Disorder treated?

Since one of the major causes of TMJ problems are the teeth and the related muscles, a dentist who is well trained in the area of TMJ can be the best place to start. Dr. Lau has attended numerous conferences, studied extensively and achieved many credentials for his work in TMJ and is now a featured speaker himself, teaching other doctors his method for diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders.

Dr. Lau plans a custom treatment for his patients’ TMJ problem based on the cause of their problem- this is called evidence based treatment. Since no two people are alike, each treatment is customized.  Our treatment protocol is to treat the cause of the problems and not just treat the symptoms. This is why our diagnostic exam is so thorough.

Initial treatment can include a custom designed orthotic/appliance, muscle therapy, exercises, moist heat & ice applications, nutritional advice, supplements. Dr. Lau prefers a non-surgical approach whenever possible.

Long term treatment, once the pain has been relieved, is discussed with Dr. Lau, and again, is individualized to address the patient’s specific conditions.

This information is FYI only. It is not intended to provide treatment or recommend treatment by any means or methods. Any health problems need careful diagnosis by your attending doctors.

Who Should I see?

One of the major causes of TMJ problems is the teeth and the related muscles. A dentist who is well trained in the area of TMJ is the best place to start as well as other professionals who have TMJ experience . Treatment based on evidence is always better than belief.

Treatment at the TMJ Treatment Center starts with a thorough diagnosis (exam) and is tailored to each patient’s individual pain problem. Since no two people are alike no one treatment can be assumed. At the Indiana TMJ Treatment Center we use cutting edge technology like 3D digital equipment to painlessly evaluate the source of each person’s problem.  Our extensive experience and success can provide you the best treatment in the least amount of time possible. In many cases a patient’s symptoms can be relieved in as little as two to three days, although we cannot guarantee you will be cured. As mentioned before, each patient is different and responds differently to treatment.

This information is FYI only. It is not intended to provide treatment or recommend treatment by any means or methods. Any health problems need careful diagnosis by your attending doctors.